Navigating the Brain Maze: A Guide to Executive Function For Parents

Is your child struggling with following through on tasks, staying focused, anxiety, worry, focus, perfectionism, being unable to learn from mistakes, being able to set and achieve goals? If so, there is a good chance their brain is struggling with executive functioning. The questions are, is it normal for their age or is it something they need help with? The answer is BOTH.

What is executive function in our brain?

 Physically is in the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) area, the area behind our forehead.
 It is 30% of our entire brain function.
 Last area in a healthy brain to fully develop, usually around the age of 30, and if there is
a learning issue, it can be as late as age 32.

Until one’s brain is fully developed, the parent/guardian are our children’s executive
function, and sometimes the child needs targeted support.

It is equated to the manager of our lives. It is responsible for being goal-oriented, socially
responsible, and productive in every area of one’s life. When this part of the brain is not
working according to appropriate age expectations, this is called executive function disorder.
These disorders can be caused by concussions or emotional/mental/physical trauma.

The purpose of our executive function is to:
 organize
 control impulses
 learn from mistakes
 display empathy
 exhibit good judgement
 focus and follow through

If this area is underactive, or is it not fully mature, or it is injured (i.e. concussion, trauma, et al.),
the executive function is not able to manage one’s life and they will not be able to be productive according to school and society’s standards. Dysfunction can also create an imbalance in the reward system and one can have little to no control over their own behavior.

If this area is overactive, one can also exhibit anxiety, worry, obsessive thoughts or behaviors, with perfectionism and “analysis paralysis” being the more extreme behaviors.

How do we find out what is happening your child’s brain?

Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and brain health specialist is a pioneer in brain health. For over 30 years, he has used SPECT scans to look at the blood flow of peoples’ brains to determine what parts of their brain are under or overactive and is then able to create and target individualized treatment. Realizing not everyone had access or could afford a brain scan, he has developed protocols that can be implemented by Certified Brain Health Professionals (CBHP).

Whitney Natiello is a CBHP and offers individual brain health assessments to determine a personalized treatment plan. The coaches at LifeTutors then utilize this treatment plan to support the young adult to integrate this plan into their daily lives. Through this unique and effective program their executive function becomes stronger and more efficient. This is where the healing happens, in their daily routine, through the consistency and accountability with the highly skilled coaches.

Every brain is neuro-diverse. No two brains act, respond, and perceive the same way to the same stimulus. How our brains develop, adapt, and respond to life is very unique. We have a comprehensive strategy to cultivate an effective and healthy executive function. There is a pathway without side effects that intentionally works with developing and optimizing the health of their beautiful brain. If your young adult is suffering, they are not able to help themselves due to their brain not working optimally. Take the next step for your child and reach out to LifeTutors today.

Whitney Natiello, Lic Ac, BHCP, CBHT is a pioneer and leader at the intersection of neuroscience and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has over 24 years of experience as an acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine and is also a Certified Brain Health Professional and Trainer by Amen University.  

Whitney administers comprehensive brain health assessments and creates extensive treatment plans for individuals and coaching companies. She also educates healthcare professionals how to integrate cutting edge neuroscience and ancient healing wisdom into their practices.

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